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Thursday, January 8, 2009

My wish for 2009 - A State of Good Law and Order (Μια ευνομούμενη Πολιτεία)

This time the police were out on the street gathering in front of the Red Cross Hospital in support of their injured colleague. A few days ago, about 500 police showed up in a protest in support of a young colleague, Διαμαντή Μαντζούνη (Diamantis Matzouni), a 21 year-old policeman who was shot and seriously injured while patrolling in Exsarhia area. Earlier, other police complained to TV station stating that during the riot period just before Christmas, they were working 17 hours a day non-stop, and as a result were too exhausted to fight the rioters. The Greek police were also not properly-equipped with modern equipment to deal with violent protesters, for example, shooting water to disperse the rioters instead of tear gas. The TV reported that the police patrols had no bullet-proof vests to carry out their duties. I hope the Greek government will learn from recent lessons and properly allocate budget to equip their public security officers, otherwise the angry youths may soon be joined by urban terrorists and former inmates, who will be released by April due to over-crowded prisons. See the Kathimerini news report of last November below. I don't think letting out inmates early is the best solution to over-crowded prisons because the already tired police force may face more dangerous tasks more frequently.

Gov’t: Some 5,500 inmates to get early release by April

Reforms tabled in Parliament earlier this week will lead to the early release of 5,500 inmates from prisons across the country by April, Justice Ministry sources said yesterday. If these releases are realized, prison numbers will be virtually halved from the 12,000 inmates currently in jail, while overcrowding will be drastically reduced. Ministry sources said a hunger strike by prisoners protesting detention conditions was slackening but conceded that some 4,000 are still refusing meals.

A little bit of tradition:

On January 6th the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates this day by having priest(s) throwing a cross into water (whichever kind is near-by, river, port, lake, or sea), the cross is tied to a rope and the priest(s) and celebrities (or local politicians) are usually taken away by a boat to a distance (say about 100 to 200 meters away from the shore gathering swimmers), the rope is held tight by a person or secured by something on the boat on one end, while the cross on the other end is thrown into water, the swimmers compete for speed and vision, diving in cold water and searching to catch the cross. The first swimmer to get the cross usually go around spectators (after he changes) to let them kiss the cross, and people usually give the winner some money. I find it a bit commercialized and away from the true spirit of Christianity, but this is their tradition.

People of Orthodox religion attended church service today (Jan. 6th) and many of them were not regular church goers, after priests performed special service sanctifying the water, people drank sanctified water 3 times (3 sips), and most people also brought bottles to collect the water for relatives who could not make it to the church or for later use.

January 7th is celebrated by people whose name is John ( Γιάννης, pronounced yia-nis with stress on a ), this is probably the most common name in Greece, people jokingly say that half of the country is celebrating the name day today. I went to my neighbor to congratulate him because his name is John, his friends and relatives were in heated discussion about politics, they asked me in the next election if I would support the Pasok or the New Democracy (current government), I told them neither because I’d prefer to see a new face. Why Greek politicians almost always come from the families of old politicians who used to be in power? I believe prolonged power holding corrupts a small group of people who know how to play games in the political arena, and these incumbents may not be politicians who love their country and people.

A state with new politicians who are hard-working citizens that care about the total wellbeing of the society is what we need, a government with fair laws and protects the common interests and rights (human, economic, health, education, etc.) of ordinary citizens.

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